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Showing posts tagged “producers”

Congratulations to the sugar farmers of Plaine des Calebasses co-op, who have won 3rd place in the Mauritius Excellence Awards for Cooperatives.Organized by the Mauritian Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, the award recognizes cooperatives who are governed fairly, run transparently and who are always striving to improve further. The core criteria include efficiency in leadership, good management of people and resources, and customer and service excellence. "I was on cloud nine!” says Mr Bolah Beharee, Secretary of the Cooperative on winning the award. “This is a proof that our cooperative has always worked hard to restore the dignity of sugarcane planters. I least expected it and it has been a great honour and achievement in the history of our cooperative."
Plain des Calebasses is one of 28 Fairtrade certified sugar cooperatives n Mauritius, with around 5000 sugar farmers benefiting from Fairtrade. New farming machinery, training on good environmental practices, school materials and a new community hall are just some of the projects farmers have carried out with the Fairtrade Premium.

Congratulations to the sugar farmers of Plaine des Calebasses co-op, who have won 3rd place in the Mauritius Excellence Awards for Cooperatives.

Organized by the Mauritian Ministry of Business, Enterprise and Cooperatives, the award recognizes cooperatives who are governed fairly, run transparently and who are always striving to improve further. The core criteria include efficiency in leadership, good management of people and resources, and customer and service excellence.

"I was on cloud nine!” says Mr Bolah Beharee, Secretary of the Cooperative on winning the award. “This is a proof that our cooperative has always worked hard to restore the dignity of sugarcane planters. I least expected it and it has been a great honour and achievement in the history of our cooperative."

Plain des Calebasses is one of 28 Fairtrade certified sugar cooperatives n Mauritius, with around 5000 sugar farmers benefiting from Fairtrade. New farming machinery, training on good environmental practices, school materials and a new community hall are just some of the projects farmers have carried out with the Fairtrade Premium.

Brazil’s first ever Fairtrade town is spreading the word about Fairtrade loud and proud! Poco de Caldes gained Fairtrade status back in October, and now has over 60 public and private entities supporting Fairtrade, through selling products or raising awareness. What makes the city Pocos de Caldas so unique is the great mix of both Fairtrade producers and consumers: Fairtrade coffee and juice farmers have their farms close to the city, and are delighted to have this new opportunity to see their produce locally under Fairtrade conditions. In the run up to World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade supporters organized a Fairtrade breakfast  to raise awareness of the importance of buying sustainable products from small farmers. Consumers, shop-keepers and public authorities tucked into Fairtrade coffee and juices as well as homemade bread and biscuits prepared by the families and members of Assondontas, a Fairtrade cooperative in “Corrego D´antas” .

Brazil’s first ever Fairtrade town is spreading the word about Fairtrade loud and proud!
 
Poco de Caldes gained Fairtrade status back in October, and now has over 60 public and private entities supporting Fairtrade, through selling products or raising awareness. What makes the city Pocos de Caldas so unique is the great mix of both Fairtrade producers and consumers: Fairtrade coffee and juice farmers have their farms close to the city, and are delighted to have this new opportunity to see their produce locally under Fairtrade conditions.
 
In the run up to World Fair Trade Day, Fairtrade supporters organized a Fairtrade breakfast  to raise awareness of the importance of buying sustainable products from small farmers. Consumers, shop-keepers and public authorities tucked into Fairtrade coffee and juices as well as homemade bread and biscuits prepared by the families and members of Assondontas, a Fairtrade cooperative in “Corrego D´antas” .

“What’s the most important change you’d like to see in your region?” I asked the cotton farmers of ‘Pratibha - Vasudha Jaivik Krishi Kalyan Samiti’. “We wish our children could get better education and communicate in English one day,” they replied.  So I trained them on Fairtrade Premium project planning, using a school project as an example. 

That session is now three years back. Since then, these cotton farmers have come a long way.  They saved their Fairtrade Premium and set up “Vasudha Vidya Vihar”: their own school to impart quality education to poor children from farming community.  After starting in 2010 with very basic infrastructure and just a small number of children, the school now imparts quality education at a reasonable fee to 425 students from very remote villages of Karhi, Khargone district in Central India.  The school now generates enough revenue to meet its operational expenses.

“So, what is the plan now?” I asked during our latest review meeting.  ‘We want to develop this school up to degree college level” the farmers answered.  “And what if your kids decide not to work on the farms when they are highly educated?” I ask, slightly provocatively.  “They would become better farmers and apply new techniques on farms once they are educated’, is the confident reply. 

The farmers are concerned that they might not have enough funds to realize this vision in the short term, due to falling Fairtrade cotton sales in their region. Nevertheless, their commitment and determination to make it happen is plain to see.

Anup Singh is a Fairtrade liaison officer in the North of India.


Many cotton farmers around the world are benefitting from Fairtrade, but struggling to get enough sales to drive bigger change in their communities. We are working on a new model for Fairtrade cotton, which will lead to allow more companies to engage with us and mean more sales for farmers. More news on this later this year!

Seed to Cup: Coffee Training in India


imageDemonstrating leaf rot

Did you know that coffee is the second most important product after tea for Asian Fairtrade producers? Several Indian producers sold Fairtrade Robusta coffee for the first time in 2012. Now they are keen to offer quality coffee in 2013 too. At the Asia Pacific Coffee Forum for Fairtrade producers held last year in Indonesia, Indian producers identified training on coffee production and quality as one of the priority needs. This follow-up training session was one small but very significant move to help achieve that.

More than 40 farmers from three Fairtrade coffee co-ops met at a coffee research station in Wayanad District, Kerala to get trained by the Coffee Board Scientists on the theme “Seed to Cup.” 

Over the course of the day, various scientists gave farmers all kinds of information and tips. Mr Prakasan revealed that productivity in Kerala is below the national average and just half of the potential. Dr Suresh Kumar explained how simple interventions like timely pruning, grafting techniques and irrigation can vastly improve yields. Dr Vijayalakshmi talked of pests and diseases and informed the farmers of simple steps to ward them off. Mr George talked about post-harvesting techniques and highlighted how bad practices in drying and storage influence coffee quality. Outturn of coffee, some bad practices like excessive pruning, requirement of shade etc were also covered during the discussion.

Every farmer took something different out of the session. Annakutty liked the information provided on pests and diseases, while Sudha emphasized the relevance of grafting techniques to the farmers. George was particularly keen to organize a training for his farmers on post harvest techniques. Vineesh hoped that this training is only a beginning and talked of a more frequent training from the coffee board. All the farmers groups were keen to take up the offer to get their soil tested by the coffee board, and to receive their recommendations for nutrient application.

The organic farmers pointed out some shortcomings like lack of suitable information for mixed cropping systems and not enough stress on organic farming research. There is always room for improvement!


image

As the aroma of South Indian filter coffee filled the air, a drizzle brought the curtain down on the program. Meanwhile, I mentally started scheduling more coffee trainings in 2013 to benefit more farmers….

Raju Ganapathy is a Fairtrade liaison officer in India, supporting farmers to join and benefit from Fairtrade.

Another climate conference ends - what results for smallholders?

I travelled to Doha with Fairtrade producer representatives from four different regions, all struggling with climate change on a daily basis. For them, the lack of progress at this year’s talks was bemusing, and frustrating.

“I am disappointed because we have put so much hope in finance and they are not making a decision, said Chief Adam Tampuri, a cashew nut producer and Chair of Fairtrade Africa. “I am surprised that the countries who have often helped us in times of disaster and famine are still hesitating to make finance for climate adaptation available. Surely we need to be engaging in preventative measures, instead of reacting when the damage is done?”

On a political level, little came out of the Doha talks to offer farmers or developing countries any cheer. There were no commitments from developed countries to cut their emissions further. There is still no significant money being put on the table to help developing countries adapt (despite a target of $100 billion a year by 2020). Even the impassioned plea of the Philippines negotiator, made as his country was battered by the umpteenth typhoon this year, did not lead to a shift in mind-set.

But away from the disappointment of the negotiations, there are many initiatives that give cause for hope.


At side events, in interviews and at round-table discussions, Fairtrade producers brought their real-life climate change experiences to the table. Tomy Mathew explained how fair prices for a whole range of Fairtrade products mean that farmers diversify, protecting variety and increasing their resilience to climate change. Carlos Vargas spoke passionately about the huge potential for hydroelectricity on coffee farms in Costa Rica, and his dream of making them all energy self-sufficient. Chief Adam shared the indigenous methods his cashew farmers are using to adapt to climate change. Each has a vision for their community and country. Each of them is connected to thousands of farmers and people in their villages and in their communities. If they just had some more cash and technical assistance they would implement measures in a shot. 

Our new collaboration with The Gold Standard Foundation will give these producers welcome opportunities to benefit from the carbon market, and access finance that will help them carry out more carbon mitigation projects. We also secured backing from a group of European politicians in our call for more adaptation funds for smallholders.

And though this COP is over, our engagement certainly isn’t. We will continue to lobby governments, seek adaptation and mitigation finance and support our farmers in the fight against climate change.

Vicky Pauschert works in the communications department at Fairtrade International.

See more photos, posts and videos of Fairtrade’s activities at COP18

Fairtrade producer representatives met European parliamentarians at the climate change convention in Doha yesterday, and urged them to get the voice of small farmers heard in the climate change talks before time runs out.

Tomy Mathew, Chief Adam Tampuri and Noel Oettle told MEPs: we are bitterly disappointed that agriculture has been taken off the UNFCCC agenda and that small farmers’ concerns are being largely ignored. Funding has to be made available so producers can take action fast to deal with the effects of climate change – not just at UNFCCC level, but also in the current EU budget planning for 2014-20. If leaders are serious about tackling poverty and food security, they have to address climate change too.

The message came across loud and clear- The MEPs present gave Fairtrade producers their wholehearted support and want to take the issue to their fellow parliamentarians and support the small farmer cause. Let’s hope the message really gets through to the rest of the European delegation, and to the COP18 negotiating table!

Read more of our posts from the COP18 climate change talks here.

We are doing all we can to deal with the impact of climate change on our very livelihoods. We have planted shade trees to create buffer zones to deal with extreme temperatures and drought. We are applying indigenous methods…We have been able to set up cook stoves that help us save wood, and solar lighting for our communities. But all these things cost money, and need technical expertise. And as the most vulnerable, our efforts to address climate change as well as our demands for support remain largely unheard.

On the eve of COP18, Fairtrade producers networks call for more support to adapt to the very real effects of climate change on their livelihoods.

Read the full statement here.

A delegation of Fairtrade producers and staff are heading to Doha for the climate change conference to make farmers’ voices heard in the debate. See an overview of our events, and join us there!

Sweet Success and Sugary too!!
Raju Ganapathy, a Fairtrade Liaison officer, reports on a sweet Fairtrade success story in India.

I came to Dharwar, a small city, overnight from Bangalore, the buzzling capital of Karnataka. For the first time I conducted a group training on Fairtrade for the representatives of seven sugar producer organizations.

Fairtrade sugar is pretty new to India. These seven producers got inspired to join Fairtrade through the Khadrolli Primary Agriculture Credit Cooperative Sangha, the first Indian sugar producer to gain Fairtrade certification, back in 2010. They were already organic certified, giving them a stepping stone to progress to Fairtrade.  In addition, their trader and exporter, Pure Life has provided them with good organizational assistance.

In 2011 Khadrolli cooperative received an amazing Fairtrade Premium of 110,000 Euros from the sale of 2318 MT of sugar. No wonder the farmers extolled the virtues of the program when I asked them about their views on Fairtrade.

Bhartesh Patil was clear that “Fairtrade certification, by providing premium, strongly supports our organic intervention.” Kandu added that “Fairtrade certification provides an opportunity to create a brand name for both the Pure Life and the sugar producers on the international market.”

The next day I was able to visit Khadrolli society to see first-hand how they have used their Premium. They showed me the tractor they have purchased, along with the chaff cutter machine, which will help them to turn harvest waste into organic compost.

The society has also supplied farmers with a kit of state of the art bio-fertilizers. One of the farmers, Irappa, enthusiastically listed the benefits : wider girth, taller crop and greener sugarcane. Two other farmers, Subhash and Hammanavar, reported that this organic manure completely substitutes any chemical fertilizers, savings cost, labor and time. As I was leaving I asked Mr Gambol their manager to track sugar content in the coming harvest to see if it also increased as a result. I wound up my trip happier that Fairtrade had brought some tangible positive results to this farming community.

It has been said repeatedly that we have the means to eliminate hunger and malnutrition. What
is needed is the establishment of an enabling environment that allows small producers to take
full advantage of available opportunities. Strong cooperatives and producer organizations are
an essential part of that.

Director-General of FAO, José Graziano da Silva, as part of his message for World Food Day, being celebrated around the world today.

“Agricultural Cooperatives: Key to feeding the world” is this year’s theme. Small farmers can offer a solution to the world’s biggest food problems, and Fairtrade’s producers have a big role to play! Find out more here.


Success at Last for Indian Grape Growers

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” ― Winston Churchill


Such is the case with Fairtrade grapes from India … a fruit of one Fairtrade importer’s persistent efforts. 

Fruit importer Univeg has been trying to launch Fairtrade grapes in the UK since 2007, but it has been quite a long journey. First they had to find suitable producers. Then they had to ensure the whole supply chain was Fairtrade certified. Not to mention quality issues, and the extremely short shelf-life grapes have. 

Over in India, one of the Fairtrade cooperatives I support was also having problems. Agrocel Pure and Fair Fruits and Nuts Growers Association (APFGA) was hardly selling any of their Fairtrade raisins, making it unviable for them to remain certified.  As a last resort, a few of the farmers decided to produce Fairtrade grapes. Could this be the supply Univeg was looking for?

There were still failures to overcome: APFGA’s first Fairtrade grape crop in 2011 was too poor quality to be exported. But they didn’t give up. Thanks to support from Univeg and another Fairtrade buyer, Euro Fruits, APFGA farmers tried again in 2012 … and have been successful. The first batch of grapes hit UK supermarket shelves a few months ago, and were praised for their top-quality.

APFGA has already started reaping the fruits of this success.  From their Fairtrade Premium they have purchased raisin packing materials collectively and managed to bargain 20% savings on this purchase for their members.  APFGA members are all smiles on their new prospects.



“It is like a new life to our cooperative. Now we can persuade our other farmers to also allocate part of their crop for Fairtrade table grapes and part for Fairtrade raisins, and continue to be a part of the Fairtrade system,” says an excited Prakash Sangave, APFGA member and Fairtrade table grapes grower.


Contibuted by Anup Singh, a Fairtrade liaison officer in India. If you’d like to source Fairtrade table grapes from India, contact him here.

There are over 50 Fairtrade liaison officers worldwide.  Learn more about their work on our website.

Small Co-op. Big and Passionate Plans.

With just seven members, Hop Tac Xa Nong Nghiep Chanh Day in Vietnam is probably one of the smallest Fairtrade cooperatives in the world! But just two months after becoming Fairtrade certified they have already sold all 20 tons of their export-quality passionfruit, and received around USD 2,000 in Fairtrade Premium. Xavier and Hung from the Asia producer services team went to visit them.

We start the day with a typical Vietnamese breakfast– a strong Robusta coffee and a bowl of Pho (noodle soup), in a street restaurant. Then we set off on the long drive to the cooperative. The farmers are based in Kien Duc, Dak Nong province, a remote mountainous area of Southern Vietnam bordering Cambodia, and one of the most disadvantaged regions in the country.

There are some large Fairtrade coffee cooperatives further North, but Hop Tac Xa Nong Nghiep Chanh Day is the first Fairtrade cooperative in Vietnam to sell passion fruits. They joined Fairtrade in June with the support of their exporter, V.U.A Biotech.

Now they are already planning how to use the first installment of Fairtrade Premium. Mrs Nguyen Thi Phuong Dong, treasurer of the cooperative and one of two female members, told us that a computer for their office and covering their operational costs are their top priorities. Later, they would like to buy land for other poor farmers and to invest in quality improvement training. They are also considering repairing the village road as some children in the community can’t attend school regularly during the rainy season, when the dirt roads get slippery.

 “The Fairtrade system protects us from losing money and against market instability” says Mrs. Nguyen. Prices for passion fruit vary a lot throughout the year, so this is a big plus. Farmers also now use protective equipment when using pesticides, in line with the Fairtrade Standards, and already feel the benefit to their health.

The cooperative is now looking for additional buyers for their second grade passion fruits. These could easily be sold and processed to make jams or fruit juice, for example. This would bring them additional income and certainly attract new members. Perhaps they won’t stay the smallest cooperative for long!

Tran Ban Hung is the Fairtrade Liaison Officer for Vietnam; Xavier Huchet is the Head of Producer Support & Relations for Asia at Fairtrade International.

Interested in purchasing Fairtrade passion fruit from Vietnam? Contact Xavier: x.huchet@fairtrade.net

Business is buzzing for Fairtrade honey producers at Apicola co-op in Uruguay.

Before the beekeepers formed the co-op, poor rural roads and limited information meant that they had to depend on local middlemen to buy their honey.

Now the Apicola producers determine their own future.  Working together, the 30 members are able to cut out the middlemen and receive higher returns for their products, which they export abroad.


"Fairtrade brought trading security to our business, gave us access to pre-harvest financing of contracts, and improved the quality of our products", says Timoteo Teixeira, Secretary of Pueblo Apicola (pictured on bottom right photo, far left).


Apicola is one of a dozen Fairtrade honey producers worldwide, and the only Fairtrade certified cooperative in the country.  Read more about Apicola co-op on our website.

On the Cocoa Trail in Ecuador - Part 2

Carla Veldhuyzen, Regional Coordinator for the Andean region, accompanied cocoa farmers from all over the region on a producer exchange to Ecuador – a great way for cooperatives to learn from each other. So what did they get out of their visit?

The first stop on our journey was Machala, where we were welcomed by Joaquin Vásquez, president of UROCAL. He told us about the organization’s nearly 40 years of history, their challenges and successes producing and trading cocoa and bananas. Then we continued our fascinating journey, visiting small producer organizations in South-western Ecuador. Farmers showed us the practices they use to increase productivity of the cocoa trees and control the quality of their product. We visited their tree nurseries and processing facilities and the famers chatted and shared experiences with their fellow cocoa producers.

Fltr. Wilbert Perez (COCLA, Peru), Martín Dominguez (Cepicafe, Peru), Oscar López (Acopagro, Peru) looking at plants in UNOCACE’s tree nursery.

In Quevedo we visited the governmental research institute INIAP, to learn all about the latest investigations on cloning, plague and disease management in national cocoa varieties.

Finally we arrived on Friday at Fortaleza del Valle cooperative in Calceta, an excellent example of Fairtrade making a difference. Their manager Berto Zambrano guided us around on their premises, where we could still see how they had started six years back with a couple of fermenting boxes in a corner and witness how they have been able to expand their business and get organized to sell the projected 650 tons of organic Fairtrade cocoa this year.

By the end of the trip, all the producers were really motivated to put their new found knowledge into practice. Many cocoa farmers in Latin American countries have struggled to compete against the lower priced West African cocoa. By learning how to improve quality, and to really market their top-notch cocoa, they can get better prices and find new market opportunities. These Ecuadorian producers have shown it is possible – now we really hope others will follow suit.

Enrique Cardenas (Fairtrade Liaision Officer), Berto Zambrano (Fortaleza del Valle, Ecuador) and Fredy Martinez (ASOCATI, Colombia) tasting chocolate.

Back in Guayaquil we celebrated World Fair Trade Day with lots of Fairtrade chocolate brought along by Fairtrade staff members Magali and Barbara from France and Belgium. They returned home well equipped with producer testimonies and insider knowledge to start promoting fine flavoured Fairtrade cocoa on their markets, and hopefully increase demand for Latin American cocoa.

Interested in sourcing Fairtrade fine flavour cocoa? Contact Carla Veldhuyzen van Zanten, Regional Coordinator for the Andean Region: c.veldhuyzen@fairtrade.net

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